Swansea City target more Europa League success against 'Belarusian Sir Alex Ferguson' - Viktor Goncharenko of Kuban Krasnodar
"THERE is no such thing as an impossible task."
They might have been the words of Gus Poyet.
In fact they were spoken by the next manager Michael Laudrup will face, Kuban Krasnodar's Viktor Goncharenko.
Having seen off Sunderland at the weekend, Swansea now turn their attention to stage two of Laudrup's "huge week".
And once again, they will face a side who are struggling for form under the guidance of a new boss.
Goncharenko was appointed during the recent international break following the dismissal of Dorinel Munteanu, who lasted only two-and-a-half months in the job.
Munteanu led Kuban through two Europa League qualifying rounds, first against Motherwell and then, impressively, Feyenoord.
But the Romanian got the boot following group stage defeats to St Gallen and Valencia and a run of only one win in six Russian top-flight matches.
In his place came Goncharenko, a 36-year-old who left BATE Borisov to join Kuban.
His considerable successes with BATE had prompted some to dub Goncharenko as the Belarusian Sir Alex Ferguson.
Given that he is only 36, the comparisons seem a little premature.
But Kuban must hope that Goncharenko continues to flourish in his new job, for they are in need of a boost after their disappointing start to the season.
The new manager's debut came on Sunday, and it did not go exactly according to plan.
Kuban took the lead at Dinamo Moscow, but were eventually beaten 3-1 and had two men sent off.
Goncharenko worked miracles at BATE, where he became the youngest coach in Champions League history, but it is hard to get a result when you only have nine players on the pitch.
Now the new man must attempt to breathe some life into Kuban's first European campaign, which looks a tall order given their miserable form.
Nevertheless, Goncharenko is upbeat.
"If you want to talk about the big tasks that we are working towards, then we want to play attractive football and win," he said this week.
"I think Kuban have good players and we can do what we have set out to do."
If they lose at the Liberty on Thursday, the Russians may be living on borrowed time in the Europa League.
For Swansea, by contrast, the game represents an opportunity to shove their foot through the door to the knockout stages.
When Swansea's European adventure began, Laudrup set reaching the group phase is the target.
But having won their first two matches in Group A, Swansea will now be disappointed if they do not make the last 32.
They will begin as heavy favourites with the bookmakers to see off Krasnodar.
And if they manage that, Swansea will be only one or two points from qualification.
This is a key game, for the return in deepest Russia in a couple of weeks' time is likely to be more of an examination.
Swansea then host a Valencia side who have been rejuvenated since Laudrup's team romped home at the Mestalla last month before rounding the group off with a tricky trip to St Gallen.
Laudrup is well aware that Kuban's visit may present Swansea with the best chance of another victory in the pool, so don't expect the reserves to take the field in 48 hours' time.
Kuban will be a different proposition from Sunderland, but Laudrup will want parts of last Saturday's game to be repeated on Thursday.
Namely, the second half.
Swansea were poor in the first period at the weekend, when they made life easy for Sunderland thanks to some sloppy passing and sorry movement.
Yet they got their act together after the break and, while the opening goal was something of a gift, it had been coming.
From then on Swansea did not look back, as they passed, probed and opened Sunderland up.
More of the same should do nicely as Swansea go in search of a second victory in what may be a pivotal week.
Laudrup spelled out to his players in the lead-up to Sunderland the significance of the next eight days.
All games are big, he conceded, but some are bigger than others.
The Premier League table already looks healthier after the Sunderland win, with Swansea up to 11th having been outside the relegation zone on goal difference alone last week.
Laudrup's team could be in the top eight if they can overcome West Ham next Sunday, although the first focus is Kuban.
"I said this was a big week for us, and it started well with the Sunderland win," Laudrup says.
"Imagine if we could go on and get three wins.
"We would put ourselves in a very solid position in the league and a fantastic position in the Europa League.
"We have started well, but now we have to move on and try to win the next two games."
Laudrup reckons things should get a little easier for his team after Sunderland, which ended Swansea's long search for a home win in the top flight.
"Maybe we can relax a little bit now," he adds.
"The players are only human, and it can affect you when you lose some games."